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Monk seals
Sanc1297 - Flickr - NOAA Photo Library.jpg
Monk seals (Monachus)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Phocidae
Genus: Monachus
Fleming, 1822

Monachus monachus
Monachus schauinslandi
Monachus tropicalis

Monachus is a genus containing the monk seals, a group of three pinniped species.[1] They are the only earless seals that are found in tropical climates. They are now extremely rare, and the genus is in imminent danger of going entirely extinct, with only very limited genetic variation in the two surviving species.[2][3] Fossils of the Mediterranean and Caribbean species are known from the Pleistocene.[4]

These include:

In 2014, following comparison of the mitochondrial cytochrome b DNA sequence of all three species, a new genus, Neomonachus, was erected for the Caribbean and Hawaiian species.[5] The time of divergence between these two, 3.7 million years (Ma) ago, corresponds to the closing of the Central American Seaway by the formation of the Isthmus of Panama. The divergence between Mediterranean seals and the New World clade was dated to 6.3 Ma ago.[6]


  1. ^ Wozencraft, W.C. (2005). "Genus Monachus". In Wilson, D.E.; Reeder, D.M. Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 598. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494. 
  2. ^ Pastor, T.; et al. (2004). "Low Genetic Variability in the Highly Endangered Mediterranean Monk Seal". Journal of Heredity 95 (4): 291–300. doi:10.1093/jhered/esh055. 
  3. ^ Kretzmann, M.; et al. (1997). "Low Genetic Variability in the Hawaiian Monk Seal". Conservation Biology 11 (2): 482–490. doi:10.1046/j.1523-1739.1997.96031.x. 
  4. ^ Berta, A. & Churchill, M. (2012). "Pinniped Taxonomy: evidence for species and subspecies". Mammal Review 42 (3): 207–234. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2907.2011.00193.x. 
  5. ^ Jemison, M. (2014-05-15). "Too valuable to lose: Extinct relative reveals rarity of last two remaining monk seal species". Smithsonian Science web site. Smithsonian Institution. Archived from the original on 2014-05-15. Retrieved 2014-05-15.  External link in |work= (help)
  6. ^ Scheel, D. M.; Slater, G.; Kolokotronis, S. O.; Potter, C.; Rotstein, D.; Tsangaras, K.; Greenwood, A.; Helgen, K. M. (2014-05-14). "Biogeography and taxonomy of extinct and endangered monk seals illuminated by ancient DNA and skull morphology". ZooKeys 409: 1–33. doi:10.3897/zookeys.409.6244. 

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